The new 2011 Toyota Sienna doesn't look exactly like a minivan, because a number of classic minivan visual cues have been eliminated. It has a wider stance, with broader flared shoulders, and a more compelling, contemporary front face with sophisticated, highly angular headlamps. The lights have projector lamps and halogen high beams combined in a compact, slender design.
From the side, the 2011 Sienna looks much sleeker overall, and less boxy in appearance than previously. The track for the sliding rear doors is completely concealed, so the rear doors look like they belong on a sedan or crossover SUV. The rear windows are shaped in a tapered trapezoid and inclined inward like a sedan, again contradicting the standard boxy minivan look.
The rear has been designed with a low, wide bumper and a roof spoiler that hides the rear wiper, for a stronger, cleaner appearance. LED tail and stop lamps are used, which illuminate more quickly and consume less power.
Overall, the exterior looks cleaner and sleeker, and it is. Aerodynamic work, including underbody covers to help manage airflow, has reduced the coefficient of drag to 0.306.
There are quite a few differences from model to model. Each has a distinctive grille, ranging from the sporty mesh grille on the SE to the chrome four-slot arrangement on the Limited. Unite 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheels are used depending on the model and options. SE, XLE and Limited models have integrated front fog lamps, and Limited has HID headlamps as an option. The SE has dark chrome accents around the lights and smoked headlight covers.
The Sienna SE gets special styling cues. The front has a more aggressive appearance. Side skirting visually lowers the vehicle and smoked headlights and taillights make a distinctive statement. Aerodynamic sculpting hugs the standard 19-inch alloy wheels. The SE sits lower, on a sport-tuned suspension.
The 2011 Sienna interior is distinctly modernistic. From the driver and passenger perspective, the cockpit uses flowing lines and round controls to achieve a sense of unified, integrated design. Prominently visible at the base of the center stack is a shape, something like a tadpole, that tapers laterally toward the passenger, to create the feeling that there is more room to share. To our eye, it's modern and effective, preventing the center stack from looking like a pile of squared-off rectangular boxes. Instead, the design suggests shared space and control areas, in a freshly contemporary atmosphere.
Design aside, the center stack contains the usual controls, with the message center at the top, the audio system just below, the climate control system below that, and storage and convenience features, such as cupholders and 12-volt plugs, at the lowest level. The shifter is located on the dash, closest to the driver, freeing center console space for storage.
There are three instrument designs, but the standard analog system uses bright blue numbering with red needles. In all three designs, a large speedometer and tach are combined with fuel and temperature gauges. The automatic transmission range and odometer are displayed on the LCD in the center of the meter, and an ECO-drive light has been added to indicate economical driving. The dash materials and cloth upholstery look and feel nice enough, although the upper pieces of the dashboard, while attractively textured, turn out to be hard plastic.
The steering wheel, padded and contoured, has buttons for audio system control on the left and Bluetooth phone control on the left. The wheel tilts and telescopes.
The front seats are passenger-car comfortable. They are six-way adjustable on the base Sienna model, and power eight-way adjustable on all other models, with memory available for the driver on Limited models. The front passenger seats are four-way, with power adjustability available on the Limited. The Sienna seats now travel about an inch farther, forward and back, compared to the previous generation, and have longer, wider cushions and adjustable armrests. Leather-trimmed and heated seats are standard on the XLE and Limited.
Second-row comfort was obviously a design priority. The second-row seats are mounted on very long sliders, 25.6 inches in length, so they can be moved very far forward or very far back, depending on the way the interior needs to be configured for people or cargo. With the seats at adjusted to the limit, a walk-in isle is created, big enough for an adult to walk through to help a child or an older passenger. With the second row seats adjusted all the way forward, walk-in access to the third row becomes possible.
Eight-passenger models use an arrangement that splits seating in a 40/20/40 proportion. That makes the second-row center seat small relative to the two outside seats, probably only actually useful for smaller people. When not in use, the center seat can be removed and stowed in a specially-designed compartment in the back, converting the second row to captain's chairs with room in between. The standard chairs are quite comfortable, but there is also an optional Lounge Seating feature available with Limited that equips the second-row captain's chairs with extended footrests.
On certain models, the back half of the center console can be extended rearward about a foot into the passenger area. With the console moved rearward, second-row passengers have more easily reached cupholders and another handy storage option.
Third-row seats are split 60/40, and fold flat with one touch. The third-row hip point is now two inches further back, which translates into leg-room for the third row occupants, and the seats recline a bit as well.
Versatility was another design priority, along with the ability to reconfigure the interior for different mixes of people and cargo. To convert from carrying people to carrying cargo, the Sienna's third-row seats easily fold flat and, when the second-row seats are folded far forward, 117 cubic feet of cargo area becomes available. With the second-row seats removed altogether, cargo area expands to 150 cubic feet. Even with just the third-row seats folded flat, there is 87 cubic feet of stowage behind the second row.
An oversized screen for the entertainment system is available for the Limited models that's large enough to split into two screens in case rear-seat occupants want entertainment from two different sources. That allows for playing a video game on half of the screen, and showing a movie on the other. Wireless headphones are available. The screen is unusually large, big enough for third-row passengers to see.
Tri-zone automatic climate control is standard on Sienna, LE and SE models, as is a cabin air filter that prevents pollen and dust from entering the vehicle.
The navigation system, a voice-activated, touch-screen system, is available on LE and Limited models. It supports an integrated backup camera with two views, and the 10-speaker JBL audio system, plus Bluetooth-capable audio devices. The system allows the user to control the source device using the car's steering wheel controls to play, pause and seek.
Toyota Safety Connect includes automatic collision notification, an emergency assistance button with 24-hour roadside assistance and the ability to locate a stolen vehicle by GPS. It comes standard on all models, with a one-year trial subscription.
A sonar parking assist system, with four ultrasonic sensors, is available on Sienna XLE models. The system sounds progressively as an object becomes closer to the vehicle. A similar system, with six sensors, is standard on Limited.